In line with reports we’ve been following all summer, it appears that Tampa Bay cornerback Jamel Dean has seized the starting job opposite Carlton Davis, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic. Dean was battling it out with Sean Murphy-Bunting who has held a starting role for much of his young career with the Buccaneers but whose injuries last season left the door open for Dean to make a run for the position. Recent reports seemed to indicate that Dean had the inside track on the starting role, but Auman was able to confirm it.
It was also discussed recently that if Murphy-Bunting was unable to win the job, he would only be able to come on the field in a backup capacity, since the Buccaneers would prefer to man three safeties in their nickel package this year. In nickel packages, Tampa Bay will use Davis and Dean on the outside with safeties Antoine Winfield, Logan Ryan, and Mike Edwards manning the rest of the secondary.
Head coach Todd Bowles spelled out the situation for Murphy-Bunting after awarding the starting job to Dean, saying that “he doesn’t plan on rotating his outside corners,” meaning that Murphy-Bunting’s playing time will largely come as a sub in both base and nickel packages.
Here are a few more rumors coming out of central Florida, starting with some more news on the depth chart:
- After a frustrating offseason that saw Tampa Bay offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs deal with a postseason ankle injury, and an oblique strain once his ankle had healed, the 23-year-old finally got some good news. After he practiced the last two days, Bowles told the media that Wirfs was trending towards being able to play in Week 1, according to Andrew Crane of the Tampa Bay Times. Another youngster should be joining Wirfs on the line as rookie second-round pick Luke Goedeke is in line to start at right guard for the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay doesn’t really have much of a choice with Aaron Stinnie and Ryan Jensen on injured reserve, but Goedeke will get an early opportunity to prove his draft-stock.
- Despite his lack of experience against elite talent, rookie running back Rachaad White is drawing elite comparisons. The smooth, patient running-style that has drawn comparisons to such standouts as Marcus Allen, Edgerrin James, and Le’Veon Bell, has elevated White above Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard on the depth chart, according to Auman. Tampa Bay realized that potential talent when they drafted him in the third round and they’ll hope to see some of those comparisons make their way into football games.
- Tampa Bay got a little bit of breathing room in their cap space today as starting guard Shaq Mason agreed to restructure his contract, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. The renegotiated deal will free up over $6MM against the cap this season for the Buccaneers.